In the spirit of putting up more practical posts, I thought I'd start with something that I have seen a lot of this summer—TOMATOES! Not just tomatoes but how to keep those red-balls of sweet goodness off the ground and on the vine until completely ripe. I am talking about trellising.
What a thrilling topic? No, really, it is though.I couldn't imagine all the tomatoes in our research plots with individual cages. We have over 900 plants this season, and one of the most important things to consider is to keep them off of the ground.
Enter, the Florida Weave.
The Florida Weave is a system that reduces the use of hard staking material by using twine to support plants between more broadly spaced stakes. In the "official" method you place stakes between every 2nd plant, though at the station we have stakes between every 7 plants unless they get too heavy then we supplement with one between the 3rd and 4th plant.
The twine is tied off to a strong end post then weaved between stems and wrapped around each of the central posts. Once your twine reaches the end post, you go back and weave around the opposite sides of the stems - effectively squeezing each stem and post between twine. As the tomato plant grows, you add another level of twine every 6-10 inches.
With this system, it is advantageous to stay on top of pruning lateral branches or you end up with a Florida "lean". But, if you find yourself in that position, just sink another strong post (a t-bar works great) and tie your weave to the new post.
I recommend using jute twine as it can be cut up and composted with all of the vines at the end of the season. Jute or sisal is non-toxic, 100% natural fibers, and 100% compostable.